Sunday, March 21, 2010

Returned to Canada

It was a difficult decision for us to return to Canada "permanently." There were many indications that God was blessing our efforts to start Elim Ministries in PNG but we did not have peace about the matter. At first we thought it was just the normal thing that missionaries have when they return to their home country--they don’t have any desire to speak about their host country for a few months. Apparently that’s normal and we were having that. We met with our sponsor organization and had good meetings with them. After many months it became clear that our home church could not be our sending church in the work and we saw that as the final indication that we were not to go.
Since then the work we began seems to be being carried on by a new family. We wish them God's blessings in that work.
Our own children have adjusted very well to life in Canada. They have had a good foundation in school in PNG and have made good friends. What is more, they all desire to follow Jesus Christ and have put their trust in Him for their personal salvation.
God has work for us all to do, no matter whether we are here in our home country or overseas in mission work. May He make us all, all believers everywhere, fruitful, very fruitful, in His kingdom for His glory that many will receive the gift of eternal life! Wow, what a prospect!!
Psa 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.

Marriage Re-Vows 2008

On August 30, 2008 we did something a bit crazy. We went to the local high school prop room and decked out our whole family as a wedding bridal party and had a beautiful little ceremony for our 15th Anniversary. It was a fabulous occasion with the best wedding party you could imagine--our own kids! Our friend lead us through a brief ceremony of re-stating our vows. We wanted our kids to know, and have a visual assurance, that we were committed to each other and that no matter how much turmoil there is out there in marriages and families, we stand strong in Christ.
Eph 2:4-10 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, (5) even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), (6) and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, (7) that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (8) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (9) not of works, lest anyone should boast. (10) For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Youth Mission Trips

Dear Friends,

We have been blessed recently with two groups of young people. We want to tell you about it.

From 30 June - 4 July we were blessed with a group of students (25 people including our family and 2 leaders) who worked very hard at building a dock, marking foundations, and setting girders and joists. They also played many games with the local people and presented stories and skits to them. Some evenings there were different video showings, not so much with an outreach message, but more to educate them about the realities of HIV/AIDS in this country. This was very well received. The students took turns sharing devotions and in helping with chores (like meal prep and carrying water up the hill). This group “slept” in the village house of prayer, a building about 10m x 10m. It was an encouragement to us to see the young people so eager to help and so desirous to have others know God in a living way.

From 16 – 19 July we were blessed with the help and encouragement from 14 youth (upper high school and university age) and two leaders from Maple Hill Baptist Church. They came to visit some missionaries from their church and then offered to help us with some building work and to reach out to the local children. Our neighbours were so excited that these teens were happy to lodge with them in their homes and eat their food. Some even started to mourn when the kids left (after only 4 days). For us it was a big encouragement to fellowship with these young people and to hear and see how God is working in their lives, and to share and sing God’s Word together. Each day the team members worked on different things ranging from VBS-type activities and Bible stories with the local children to framing, making and installing tongue and groove flooring, siding, setting posts, and preparing a roof for steel. Some had the interesting experience of travelling to a neighbouring village across the lake in the dark. We had all been quite impressed with the 1 million candlelight flashlight we had with us. But then when we got out on the water, God showed the light He had arranged—a full moon reflecting brightly off the water right ahead of us! Against that we couldn’t even tell whether our light was on or not! Then when the clouds obscured the moon for awhile, I felt a little vindicated with my puny light, but then the light faded with the battery and I was humbled again. I was thankful for His reminder that He doesn’t really need us for His work; our tools and resources are really insignificant when compared to His. We went to the village, at their request, to explain to them what we were doing in their area and took the opportunity to declare the Good News of Jesus Christ for guilty sinners to them also. The moon was out in full for the return trip. God is good.

What we are working on now is two small cottages, one of which will initially be our home. Once we have built our own home, these will be available to be places of rest (ie. Elim) for other missionaries or even for you when you come to visit us! Keep an eye on our (temporary) website for details on that. It is very important for us to be developing relationships with the locals during this time and so we are happy for opportunities like this to do that. We’re working side by side with them and making good friendships.

At times we feel how big a step this is. We lie awake or wake up with a cold sweat at night. Then, no sooner have we asked that God would confirm that this is the way we should go, and we are given the updated statistics (Hunter, Susan, 2006 Families and Children Affected by HIV/AIDS and Other Vulnerable Children in Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea: UNICEF) for PNG where nearly 780,000 children (30%) of the country’s 2.6 million are being affected by HIV/AIDS; this figure is expected to grow to 982,000 (40%) by 2010.

Currently, the number of affected children breaks down as follows:

· 10.946 with HIV/AIDS

· 9,400 orphans

· 138,108 living in AIDS-affected families

· 620,585 at immediate risk of infection

· 210,600 orphaned from causes other than AIDS

· 10,000 street, homeless and abandoned children

· 1,311,040 children vulnerable to sexual exploitation

I recently read the account of the sinking of the Titanic for casual reading. What struck me is that of all the half-filled lifeboats that could have gone back to help, only one did even though everyone heard the cries for help. The pilot of that boat could have turned back because he was the only one. From that I realized that just because you’re in the minority does not necessarily mean it’s a bad thing to be doing. Having said this, we “coincidentally” met a man and his wife who have set out to do a very similar thing in another city. We took that as God’s confirmation that this is something He wants done. Someone spoke to me recently about discerning God’s will. (This is based on a book he had read, so some of you will already have read this.) My summary of what he said is this: Many of us, in looking for God’s direction, are looking for a map. Indeed many people try to give us maps. Sometimes God will give us a map, but even then it has an expiration date on it. Perhaps a more Biblical approach is to think in terms of a compass and consider God’s desire that people from every tribe and tongue and nation would come to know Jesus as Lord and Saviour (Rev 5.9) to be the True North. So, wherever you are, if you want to know what God’s will is, do whatever you can to go North, God’s ultimate purpose for the world. That doesn’t help much for options that are equally North (or not), but it was liberating to me to see that we are not in the dark until we see writing in the sky. God has declared his purpose for us. He has given us a job description and a direction to follow.

Anyway, we realize a newsletter is long overdue. Thank you all for you faithful prayer and financial support. We deeply appreciate all that you do. We know that you are doing this sacrificially; there are many things that demand your time and money. We are trying to be good stewards of the financial support we receive. By the way, our car is functioning again- Praise the Lord. The boys (Jonathan and Evan)and I were able to replace the radiator and the head gasket. It’s still an old vehicle, but it’s working well for now. Thanks for your prayers about this.

With lots of love from the Sommers!

Richard, Laura and the kids (Jonathan, Evan, Stephanie, Ulissa, and Sarah-Lynn)

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